Tuesday, June 29, 2004

more reservations about reservations

Amit Phansalkar makes some interesting points in responding to my post on reservations in the private sector. Among other things, he rightly points out that it's not entirely logical to infer that press coverage of the reservation issue is biased because there aren't more Dalit journalists. I didn't say that, though I can see how a reader might have decided that was what I was implying. To be specific, I simply mention this to point out how easily Dalits themselves can be excluded from this debate. (It is also true, I'd venture to say, that there are very few journalists from backgrounds of extreme poverty). Also: Amit clearly isn't a bigot, and I didn't mean to suggest that he was by raising questions about the voices that should be loudest in this debate--which certainly should not include foreigners like myself, incidentally.


asuph said...


Maybe I was a bit too harsh while commenting on your last blog. Yes, the first-hand dalit viewpoint is probably not getting the kind of media space that it should be getting, but so is true about the first-hand non-dalit (for I don't like the use the word higher/lower caste) viewpoint, especially in the mainstream Indian (English) media. The ELM (and at times even vernacular media) has its own biases that if at all anything, champion a (even if second-hand) dalit viewpoint. Only when the reservation debate has been extended to the "private sector" has the ELM actually started to give column space to the anti-reservation viewpoints! The leftist legacy of political correctnes and championing the cause of the socially repressed that's shared by the ELM otherwise has actually resulted in avoiding the reservation debate in any meaningful sense. So yes, fresh first hand viewpoints from all camps are welcome, but the viewpoints themselves must have (ironically) some merit!

Also, I don't thing that being a foreigner in itself should exclude anyone from this debate. It's the relevance of the arguments that's the main issue here. I appreciate your contribution on this issue, sometimes even an outside (and I'm not claiming you are) can bring in fresh insights -- especially in issues as tangled and as passionate as reservations. So no, don't disconnect; rather engage.

Amit Phansalkar.

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